Tom Elliff

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CUBA: A remarkable chapter in God’s story

HAVANA, Cuba. (BP) -- It was an apology like no other we have ever received. The four men seated at the table with my wife Jeannie and me felt a need to explain, and we were straining to listen to their story.

Chasing the Darkness

This excerpt from retiring International Mission Board President Tom Elliff’s May 14, 2014, report to the IMB trustees contains a challenge to members of his Board and Southern Baptist churches.

Elliff’s report: Chasing the darkness

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (BP) -- Revivalist Richard Baxter noted that he "preached as a dying man to dying men." His intent was clear. We are all operating on borrowed time and "no man knows his hour." We must also live with the constant awareness that those to whom we preach are dying a horrible death which mere words are incapable of describing. Wrapped in chains of sin and separated from God, they sit in great darkness, devoid of the faintest glimmer of the true Light that brings light to all mankind.

Christ is worthy of your all

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Years ago, in my wife's home church, the pastor received an unusual call on Sunday afternoon from the chairman of the church's finance committee. That morning, the church had begun collecting its annual Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions. ...

FIRST-PERSON: The best way to confront hunger

Missions leader Tom Elliff cites key reasons why he sees Southern Baptists' Global Hunger Relief as "the best and most assured way" to meet crisis needs (earthquakes, floods) and chronic hunger needs (poverty, famine) that span generations and geographic boundaries.

WEEK OF PRAYER: An obedient heart

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- During a recent trip to Japan, I sat with IMB personnel as we listened intently to missionary Tak Oue translate the story of an 82-year-old Japanese pastor. Tak and his wife Lana were taking several of us to view the encouraging results of disaster response to the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the eastern coast of Japan March 11, 2011.

Will Southern Baptists Rise to the Challenge?

    One billion is a big number. It would take you thirty-seven years to count to one billion at one number a second. Seven billion is an even larger and more significant number. That is the number of people currently inhabiting the globe. In 1804, the world reached its first billion in population. Now, […]

FIRST PERSON: Will Southern Baptists rise to the challenge?

Columnist and IMB President Tom Elliff looks at the current state of missions giving and asks: Have we really concluded that we can accomplish more by ourselves than we can together?

FIRST PERSON: Will Southern Baptists rise to the challenge?

Columnist and IMB President Tom Elliff looks at the current state of missions giving and asks: Have we really concluded that we can accomplish more by ourselves than we can together?

WEEK OF PRAYER: Clinic’s care includes ‘The Best Medicine’

HORN OF AFRICA (BP) -- The African air is hot and still, stirred only by people brushing silently by as they are invited into the clinic courtyard from the weary line gathered outside. My wife Jeannie and I are taken by the silence. People who are tired, hungry and ill are often very quiet, even the children and babies. They have long ago given up on mere pleading as an effective means for getting help. The medical clinic "waiting room" is a wooden bench on a shaded porch. Patients are asked to sit, five at a time, while waiting for someone to inquire about their problems. Just being there, where someone cares, is medicine in itself -- and you get the feeling they'd love to linger. But the time is short, and the sun will soon make it too hot to continue. Standing in the doorway, wiping perspiration from her forehead with the back of her hand, is a Southern Baptist health care worker, one of six at the clinic today. She, along with a few nationals and volunteers from the States, will treat approximately 120 patients before the day is half done. This is the first of three similar clinics they conduct each week in a joint effort with Baptist Global Response in the Horn of Africa. Toward noon I hear a sudden, excited "buzz" among the Christian workers who motion toward the bench and whisper "God has answered our prayers!" Pausing for a moment, one of the workers draws me aside to tell me that only four days earlier the team began praying for an open door to the Muslim community in a village far from the clinic. "Look!" she exclaimed, "those are eight people from the very village we've been praying about. These people have walked all the way here and are our very first contacts." I look again at the sad group sitting on the bench and clustered beside it. Little do they know that very soon the light of the Gospel will break across the landscape in that distant community … the result of YOUR praying, YOUR giving and YOUR praying some more! Soon they will receive what one Christian worker called "The Best Medicine." Very soon, many of them could join the multiplied thousands turning to Christ with hearts softened by the love of these Southern Baptists who minister in a very hard place. This week is critical to our Southern Baptist ministries around the world. It’s the week our churches focus on prayer for our personnel and give to international missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which keeps personnel on the field. But the world deserves more than a mere week of prayer and giving! And the commission of our Lord, "Go! Teach all nations!" demands more of us than ever before. This past October the world's population exceeded 7 billion people, each of whom will be alive millions of years from now in heaven or hell. The Best Medicine is Jesus! Yet it is estimated that 1.7 billion people will die without ever hearing His name. That is both unthinkable and unacceptable for Southern Baptists who eagerly and sacrificially seek to carry the Good News to the very ends of the earth. As Jeannie and I sat on our bed that evening, we reflected on the importance of praying and giving and praying some more. We must both pray and give with sacrificial determination. But if we can continue wearing what we wear, living where we live, enjoying all that we have enjoyed and going anywhere we want to go … then where is the sacrifice? Sacrifice results in change, a present change in our lives with the anticipation of a future change in the lives of others. It will take sacrificial giving, praying and going if Southern Baptists are to effectively impact the world for Christ's sake.